Starring: Mark Chao, Yang Zishan
Director: Wu Youyin
Running Time: 118 mins
Till The End Of The World is a Chinese film about a wealthy, arrogant businessman and a hard-working researcher who find themselves stranded together in Antarctica after their plane crashes in a desolate area of the harshest environment on Earth.
I like a good survival movie, with no more than a couple of characters isolated, battling against harsh elements to stay alive. At first, Till The End Of The World does that really well, emphasising the extremities of the Antarctic climate, all the while keeping its lead characters’ relationship engaging and heartwarming. It’s also an impressive visual production, with the on-location filming working wonders to pull you into its story further, although it doesn’t quite manage to carry out the successes of its excellent opening act all the way to the end, proving ultimately a little melodramatic and safe.
But let’s start off with the best bits, the most memorable of which has to be just how gritty and often tense the first act actually is. Now, as survival movies go, this is hardly the most intense of them all, and it definitely doesn’t feature any moments that will really make you hide behind the sofa. However, for a movie that initially masquerades as a romantic drama above all else, the way in which it carries out some genuinely impressive survival thrills, as we see our two leads battle to stay alive in extremely harsh conditions, really surprised me.
And it’s not just over-the-top theatrics, but properly exciting and engrossing thrills that emphasise the truly inhospitable nature of the most isolated reaches of Antarctica, something that’s perfectly furthered by the fact that a lot of the film was, rather remarkably, actually shot on location in Antarctica. That’s no mean feat even by Hollywood’s standards, and it’s something that undoubtedly plays a big role in making the two characters’ presence on Antarctica feel all the more convincing, and as such their hardships all the more intense.
Another plus has to come from the chemistry between the two leads. The overall romantic story of the film is fairly predictable, coming from two polar opposites that hate each other to two fully in love sweethearts that live to survive for one another. There are elements of the characters’ development that are far too simple and abrupt, as the two do go from total opposites to lovers a little too quickly.
With that said, however, Mark Chao and Yang Zishan do a fantastic job together, bringing performances that not only make their characters fully convincing and engaging throughout, but also make the central relationship very heartwarming from the beginning. It’s not the typical Hollywood excess of a man and a woman being at each other’s throats at first, only to come to love one another, but instead two performances that are a little more down-to-earth, and as such a lot more likable.
The biggest problem that I had with Till The End Of The World, however, was the fact that it didn’t keep up with the tone of what was both an engrossing and impressive opening act. The survival story of the film is by far its strongest plot point, but the second and particularly final act make things a little too easy for the characters, and the focus starts to shift to a somewhat more melodramatic and excessively theatrical romance than a properly exciting thriller.
There is still emotion and more to be seen as the film draws to a close, and its bold ending did surprise me, but it’s generally a poorer end to a film that could have really been properly engrossing right the way through had it continued on the same wavelength as its brilliant opening act, and that’s why I’m going to give Till The End Of The World a 7.4 overall.